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Target v. Target

05/03/2011

Maple Leaf "Bulls Eye"?

Back in mid-January we wrote about Target’s expansion into Canada. What “A Bigger Bullseye – Double Trouble In Canada” exposed was the legal battle between Target Corp. and Target Apparel, owned by Toronto fashion merchant Isaac Benitah.

Monday, Target (USA) was in Canadian Federal Court seeking an injunction to bar Target Apparel from using the Target name until a trial to determine which entity has the proper trademarks can be held. That’s going to be tough to enforce as Target Apparel has their brand in, ironically, the same font on the exterior of their stores – let alone everywhere else a retail brand uses its brand name.

There’s a lot of money at stake here – especially for Target Corp. Target is on a trajectory to open 100 to 150 stores in Canada starting in 2013. Last year Target Corp. paid $1.85 billion to Hudson Bay Company’s Zeller’s stores for some 220 retail space leases.

Speaking to Wall Street analysts last month, CFO Douglas Scovanner said Tuesday that Target expects to have more than 200 stores in Canada within the next five to 10 years, with the stores generating about $6 billion Canadian ($6.36billion in U.S. dollars based on today’s exchange rate).

Don’t look for Mr. Benitah to roll over on this. Dealing with Mr. Benitah isn’t a new problem for Target. In 2002, the U.S. chain first took issue with Mr. Benitah’s right to use the name; ultimately, the case went to the Federal Court of Appeal, which came down in his favor five years later.

However it shakes out, Target Corp. will need to apply its marketing prowess towards creating a distinctive identity for the bull’s eye as it may go head to head with the Canadian Target for some time.

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